Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Hey All!

Happy happy spring! I am looooovin' on this Minnesota sunshine and inspired to work on a spring pattern with cute little birdies.

I recently discovered this super handy product from Sulky - Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It's a self-adhesive, water soluble stabilizer that's shown here in sheets. You can print or trace your design onto your fabric (or in this case, wool felt). It has tons of uses - a stabilizer, templates (which is what I'll be using it for in this post), and as a way to transfer an embroidery design onto dark fabrics or wool. Awesome right??!! I do agree. I do so so agree.

So let me show you how it works. I first printed my designs onto a sheet of the Fabri-Solvy. It's printer friendly which rocks because I need to make A LOT of little birds for this pattern and did not feel like tracing them all out. BUT you certainly can trace out any pattern you like. Throw it over a light box or up against a sunny window, and use a Pigma pen or water soluble fabric pen to trace out your shapes.

What shall we schtick it to...?? I'm making these little birdies out of wool felt. Today I choose...amarillo!

Cut your shapes out just beyond the traced lines. (If you use fusible web for applique, you'll find this to be basically the same process). Cut, cut, snip. Cut, cut, snip.

Peel away the release sheet...

And schtick it to your wool felt (or wool, or fabric, or...)

Adhere all those little pieces, and cut them out on the lines.

Once cut out, pull away the sticky stuff, and your shape emerges! Chirp!

Now what's really cool is that sticky stuff stays sticky for a few more rounds. I'll use the same little templates to cut out bluebirds next. Again, just adhere your shapes to the wool felt, and this time you'll cut along the edge of each shape. You can also pin your template in place once the stickiness is gone. Or... go to your printer and just print another sheet of birdies.

That's all there is to it. Easy, right? And because it's water soluble, you can stick it to dark fabric, wool, whatever, embroider right on top of it (hand or machine), and it dissolves away in warm water when you're done. Super cool. Just be sure both your fabric and thread are colorfast.

Tweet tweet say the goldfinch. Chirp chirp say the bluebirds.

Click here to visit my website for fun embroidery patterns. And stay up to date on new patterns (this one's coming sooooon!) by LIKING Blueberry Backroads on Facebook.

Happy spring!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Double Sided Door Draft Stopper


It is COLD right now in Minnesota. I mean 25 degrees below zero plus some nasty wind COLD! So I decided to do a little "functional" sewing today and make up a double-sided draft stopper for our front door. Full disclosure - I don't do a whole lot of "functional" sewing. I embroider cute little birds and happy little snowmen. I can sew a button... maybe repair a torn seam... but that's about it. So this was a nice little challenge for me. I got to use the tape measure. I even hooked it to my belt... makes a girl feel important, you know? :)

So step one is to get that tape measure out, and measure the length of your door. Then measure the width of your door. Jot those numbers down and...

Take yourself into that freezing cold wind and purchase some "outdoor fabric". That's what it's called. Upholstery fabric or anything like that would work well too. Choose something to match your furniture or that will blend well with the floor. My door measures just shy of 2" in width, and a 1/2 yard of fabric was exactly enough. Maybe get a little more if you want to play around with it.

You'll also need a couple of pipe covers. Pick these up at any home goods store, WalMart, wherever. You want ones that are almost as long as your door. My door is 36" across, and so are these pipe covers. I'll actually cut them down a bit to allow me to open and close my door - a critical piece, don't you think?

Give your outdoor fabric a nice gentle wash, and air dry. I just threw mine over the radiator, and it was dry in 10 minutes.

Cut your fabric like this:
Length: The length of your door, plus about 3". My door is 36" so I cut my fabric to about 39".
Width: Cut to about 18". Again, my door is just shy of 2" in width, and 18" worked well. It's not a super tight fit, but seems about right.

And don't worry about getting technical. Remember, this sits on your floor, and gets batted around by the dog. Approximates are a-okay!

Fold RIGHT SIDES OF FABRIC together along the long edge. Pin one long edge and one short edge in place. Use pretty pins because you'll blog about this later.

Kindly ask your kitty to get out of your sewing chair...

And sew one long edge and one short edge. I sewed over each twice, just because of that whole sitting on the floor, dog batting it around thing. I want it to be durable!

Turn your door draft stopper, and toss those pipe covers inside.

Quick trial run to see how it fits! See here how my pipe covers are too long. I'll need to cut those down so that the door can open and close easily.

Cut those pipe covers down to your liking. I cut mine to measure about an inch less than my door.

Now pull out the pipe covers, and fold your draft stopper in half just to create a little crease down the middle. Eyeball it, and then sew right down that crease. Somewhere CLOSE to the middle is just fine!

Stop short 3" or so from the end.

Pop those pipe covers back in, and cut off excess fabric, leaving yourself enough to sew up the end.

Tuck those loose ends in, any which way you can. I sort of made a little present at the end. Sew up with some sturdy thread, and voila!

Ok, almost voila. My ends puckered a little and were getting stuck in the door. So I just folded them in, and sewed them to the bottom. Easy little fix, and you can't see it from the top.

Now for real, voila! Bye bye draft. Don't you love that rug in the entryway? A Christmas present from my mom; she made it herself! You'll have to ask her how she did that... I'm just the door draft stopper girl.

There you are, a fun and inexpensive little do-it-yourself-er. I'm going to use that striped fabric to make a door snake for an interior door. That should be even easier... I'll just make the pocket, fill it with rice, and sew up.

Happy stitching, and STAY WARM!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Color Crayons & Fabric!

My new favorite thing - embroidery with color crayon tinting! I've put together a little step-by-step of how to color your fabric before you embroider. I hope you find it helpful!

I'm taking a class on this gorgeous quilt - A Gardener's Alphabet from Crabapple Hill. Each block is color tinted, and today I'm working on Block C.  

Whenever coloring your stitchery fabric with crayon, step one is to wash and dry your fabrics without using any softener. Press your fabric.

Now tape your pattern to a light box or a sunny window, and use a fine-tip Pigma pen to trace out the pattern. Avoid water- or air-erasable pens as these can be permanently set into your fabric when you heat-set the color later on. 

Prepare a clean, smooth surface on which to color. Trim away loose threads, and give yourself ample space. 

Tint everything that you will color in WHITE. This fills in those little fabric pores and gives you a nice base over which to color.

Next, pull out the crayons and embroidery floss that you'll be using in order to decide on colors ahead of time. The pattern tells you which colors to use so make sure you have those handy and that you like the combination. Don't be afraid to change it up!

Here I pulled out the floss and the crayons, and then I put them together to make sure I liked the pattern's suggestions. I did!

Experiment, experiment, experiment. Always have a scrap of your background fabric on hand to play with before coloring your actual block.

Begin with your lightest shade of crayon, and get darker as you go. You can always go darker, but it's pretty hard to go lighter! I color everything in - sort of a second "base" of color - before I begin to shade. And you can always leave some parts white. Where light hits an object, it often looks white. Remember - you can always darken it in later on!

Now this is where we get into shading. A little planning is helpful. Just remember that objects in the foreground tend to be lighter than those in the background. The edge of an object, where is sits behind another, is often darker. In this example, I think of the area below each line on the carrots as being shaded, therefore darker. Here's what I mean:

Next come the greens, and I just followed the same process, going light to dark.

 I colored in the Letter C as the pattern suggested, and my coloring was complete!

Now it's time to heat set. Place a clean paper towel over your project, and press with a hot iron, without using steam. Lift up the towel, and if it's completely free of crayon, your done! If not, repeat with a clean towel until the towel comes back clean.

Now here's the block after heat setting. The heat helps to smooth the color, giving it a nice finished look.

Now layer your stitchery over a background piece of muslin (also pre-washed); baste; and embroider!

So what do you think? Not too hard, right? Everyone's block will look different, and that's the best part of being creative. Hope you have fun, and contact me anytime with questions, comments, ideas... I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Metallic Hand Embroidery Floss

Hey All!

I LOVE working with metallic embroidery floss. Well, I don't exactly love working  with it, but I do love its effect. It can be tricky! So I've put together a few tips to help you work with the stuff.

First off - it's kind of difficult! No two ways about it, it just is. You have to have a little extra patience to work with metallics. But they add so much to a project, that I think they're worth it. Here are a few things I've done with metallic hand embroidery floss.

On A Patchwork Forest, I used a blue metallic floss to give the embroidered snowflakes a little sparkle.

On All is Bright, the metallic gold gives the project and old-fashioned Christmas card look.

And on Christmas by the Fire, the metallic golds and copper set the fire aglow.

My patterns call for DMC metallic floss. There are other brands out there, but DMC is just the one that I've tried. I like their colors and availability. Here are a few I've picked up at local craft stores.

Below is a picture of what happens to the ends of this floss. It frays like crazy! Just be aware of that, and USE SHORT STRANDS. Plan to cut your floss to no more than 15" or so. It takes a little extra time when you need to re-thread the needle, but the overall frustration level will be less - trust me! And TRIM THE LOOSE END AS YOU GO to prevent it from getting all knotted up. You'll lose some length, but the look will be cleaner.

USE A NEEDLE WITH A LARGE EYE. I like to use a chenille needle like the one pictured on the bottom. The metallic-ness (my new word) holds together better when there's less friction against the needle. I think this is the most important tip of all!

PLAN ON THERE BEING A LITTLE WASTE. It' hard to store this stuff once it's been separated! DMC metallics come in 6-strand skeins, and if you don't use all six strands for a project... well... those leftover strands end up looking like this - pretty but not all that functional. When I start a new project, I always start with a fresh strand of floss.

I like to store all of my embroidery floss like this. Pick up these little PLASTIC FLOSS BOBBINS at most craft and sewing stores. And be sure to LABEL THE BOBBIN with the floss color so you can easily find it for your next project.

SEW SLOWLY! In this picture, you see what often happens as you embroider. The strands separate. Now you can try different methods of knotting to alleviate this, but I find that just going slowly, and taking the time to pull individual strands through when necessary, is the way to go. It's just a matter of being patient and knowing that the end result will be worth it!

If you're a machine embroiderer, I came across this helpful tutorial from Nancy's Notions. I haven't done any machine embroidery myself, but I think her tips make a lot of sense.

So there you go! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you!